I am here – in Sperlonga, Italy on retreat – sola. The intent is to write. The subject is the manuscript, A Book of Repeated Beginnings: Woman Making. A book-length lyric essay that juxtaposes, history and memoir with literature to explore recurring cultural patterns. Historical zombi pennies that always show tails up.
This is fucking crazy, how did I come up with this plan driven by discontent (my default mode). Desire pushed by curiosity irritated by anger and resentment wanting to escape – to flee – what I find too sad to leave behind. The stronger pull is to write in solitude away from the distractions of daily drudge. Did I need to travel so far away as Sperlonga, at such great expense?
I had to prove I can still seek out adventure although the manufactured risk is minor created in narrow confines amplified by comfort prodded by the anxiety of baggage real and created by my obsession with the logistics of transporting my baggage. The fear that after an overnight flight as I dozed into deep sleep from the swaying of the train some-thing might go missing.
Emotion held back, dammed up by the busy beaver’s constant endeavor, threatened to break to swamp me in the deluge. The past months since February, on the last night, already feeble, mother sank to the floor in her rosy box of an apartment. She fractured her hip. The anesthesia sent her down the rabbit hole tattering the remnants of tentative normalcy. Her declining engagement with life until three months edging on four turned her into a statistic. Only her innate body anchors her ghost dancing on the liminal rim. When I speak about her it is in past tense. Everything she was did not survive the fall. She cannot walk. She needs total assist in daily life activities, reduced to sleep arms bent at the elbow. Her body mass shrunk from not eating except puréed mush in shades of gray and orange accents spooned into her toothless mouth. Her dentures too large.
We were never the ideal representation of the mother and daughter relationship, except at the end of the spectrum. My entire life I never heard her poetry. She possessed not rhyme nor reason, only the insatiable need to find her lost father in disappointing men. My father the direct opposite of her the Mafia Don worked long hard hours as a laborer. Then he went – pushed out. She must have fallen for his good looks. He is still handsome at ninety-three. His great smile and personality. Head-over-heels she tumbled into bed where fate sealed our family’s lot.
This is how love poems are written…
At a distance from the beloved
Only in separation can I possibly discover our
And here I am sitting in the plaza next to the Hotel Aurora, on the first night in Sperlonga at a restaurant waiting for dinner. I hit a rough patch this afternoon.
Difficulty in the beginning
It was that liminal time of the afternoon between things. My head woozy from cross-Atlantic travel about ready to split, ready to buzz, to spin out of control. I dozed lightly half asleep I pushed out of bed to take a quick walk on the beach. The tide in the narrow strip of sand crowded. In and out under the moon’s influence, adjusted daily for to the curve of the earth rotating on its axis in space and time makes experience.
This day, two rolled into one began yesterday. Part one began in New York flowed seamlessly into the early morning arrival at Fiumicino Airport. The possibility of seeming ridiculous struggling with oversized luggage. The only bumpy patch resolved on the way to the airport last minute on the drive to JFK in the rain overwhelmed with the idea of finding myself pinned face down under the weight avarice I reserved a taxi online adding prodigality to my transgressions.
I cannot indulge in this favola again. The cost of these two weeks can only be resolved with a completed manuscript.